Applying Yourself Correctly:
Maximizing Your Resume Responses

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
Although many people don't realize it, there's more to getting interviews than just having a well-prepared resume and cover letter. The job-search process is multi-faceted, and one of the key aspects to getting the maximum return from your resume (meaning, the greatest number of interviews) is making sure you use the correct application strategy. In a way, you're selling a product—yourself. You've got your marketing materials (the resume and cover letter); now you need to get it in front of the right customers.

If you were selling children's toys, you wouldn't send promotional materials to a furniture store, would you? So why would you try to sell yourself for the wrong job? Here are some pointers for building and using the correct application strategy.

1. Make sure your experience matches what the job is looking for.  Obviously, we're always trying to find a job that's better than the last one. We all want to "move up the ladder," make more money, have more responsibilities. But if you apply for something you obviously aren't qualified for, you're just wasting time—yours and the company's.

2. Keep your job search to areas within driving distance.  Employers tend to be wary of resumes coming in from people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from the job's location. Sure, people relocate all the time, but companies don't necessarily want to pay for those relocation costs. Or have to worry about employees who might not make it to work on time—or at all— because they live so far away that traffic and weather make for a rough commute. Plus, long-distance commuters are often more tired, more apt to not perform as well. If you are available for relocation, make a point of emphasizing in your cover letter that the company won't need to pay for the relocation costs.

3. Make sure your technical skills match the job requirements.  This used to only be important for computer specialists or laboratory employees, but today technology is more prevalent than ever. Warehouse workers need to know software and equipment. Hospital workers need to know a wide variety of software and hardware. Even office workers might need to know specific databases or applications. Look carefully at what technologies are listed in the job description, and make sure you can use them, or at least most of them, before you apply.

A general rule of thumb is your experience and skills should match more than half of the requirements in the job description if you want to be remotely considered for the role. To have a good chance of getting interviewed, meeting more than 75% of the requirements is even better.

Even in today's tough economic times, there are still jobs available. But applying for the wrong ones is just going to make your job search harder.

Job Search Tips

  • Read job descriptions carefully and make sure your qualifications match.
  • Be prepared to adjust your resume and cover letter to match each job you apply to.
  • If the jobs you're applying to all require a certain skill, consider taking a training class.
  • Never omit your address from a resume. It makes companies think you don't live close by.